What is servant leadership?

Imagine a leader who prioritizes the growth and well-being of their team members and the communities to which they belong. This leader practices servant leadership, a philosophy where the main goal of the leader is to serve. 

Servant leadership offers a refreshing and effective approach to managing teams and organizations. 

Let’s explore the essence of servant leadership and how it can revolutionize the way we lead.

What is servant leadership?

Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the primary goal of the leader is to serve others. It’s about shifting the focus from command and control to care and empowerment. 

Think of it as a gardener tending to plants. The leader nurtures and cares for their team, helping them grow and flourish. For leaders, this means putting the needs of others first and helping people develop and perform to their best.

Why Servant Leadership Matters

Servant leaders foster a strong sense of community and teamwork. They promote ethical and caring behavior and enhances employee well-being and job satisfaction. 

This leads to higher engagement, more trust, and stronger team relationships. 

Servant-led organizations often outperform others because they build a culture of trust and empowerment.

How to Practice Servant Leadership

  1. Listen actively.  Prioritize listening to understand the needs, aspirations, and concerns of your team.
  2. Empathize: Show genuine care and concern for your team members as individuals.
  3. Heal and support. Be attentive to the personal and professional struggles of your team and provide support.
  4. Be more self-aware. Recognize your impact on others and the organization. And understand your own strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Persuade, Don’t Coerce: Influence rather than dictate; use persuasion over positional authority.

Case Studies

Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines

Kelleher’s leadership style at Southwest Airlines was characterized by a deep commitment to employee satisfaction, fostering a strong company culture and exceptional customer service.

Ken Blanchard, Management Expert and Author

Blanchard, through his writings and leadership training, has been a proponent of servant leadership, emphasizing the role of leaders as servants first.

Servant leadership turns the traditional power leadership model upside down. Instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people. 

Servant leadership offers a path to more humane and effective leadership. 

It’s about leading with the heart, as well as the head. It is also about building a legacy of growth, development, and empowerment. The leaders who will truly make a difference are those who understand that their greatest impact comes from serving others.